Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Haunted Event: The Dublin Ghost Story Festival 2018

Last weekend saw the second ever Dublin Ghost Story Festival, organised by the indefatigable Brian J. Showers of Swan River Press. I was unfortunately unable to attend the first one, so I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to take part in this one, alongside some very illustrious guests including Joyce Carol Oates and Reggie Oliver. Other guests included Andrew Michael Hurley, author of The Loney, winner of the 2015 Costa First Novel Award and the British Book Awards Book of the Year 2016, plus V.H.Leslie, Lisa Tuttle, Rosalie Parker, Nicholas Royle and Ray Russell. So it was a varied and impressive event for lovers of supernatural fiction! On Saturday I moderated a panel comprising Joyce Carol Oates, Reggie Oliver and Andrew Michael Hurley, which was a bit nerve racking, especially as I had never taken part in a festival panel before, let alone moderated one - and with the guest of honour on it...! However, the audience was a friendly one and it seemed to go alright. (At any rate, I didn't call Joyce "Reggie" by accident or vice versa, as I was afraid nerves might lead me to do!)

Above: me with Nicholas Royle (left) and Reggie Oliver (right). Photo by Gerry Hayes. 

Above: Joyce Carol Oates reading from her work. 

The Festival began with a pre-festival reception on Thursday evening and then ran from Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon, with a range of panels, readings and signings, as well as an interview with Joyce Carol Oates. The panel discussions included such interesting topics as "overlooked favourites" and "how do ghost stories work and when do they simply fail?" There were also a number of publishers and booksellers offering a simply mouthwatering range of volumes. I regret that I am not in the market for early editions of the ghost stories of M.R.James (sob!), but I did pick up several ancient paperback anthologies of spooky tales. There was genuinely something to suit the pocket of every ghost story lover, and plenty of treasures to yearn hopelessly after, in a suitably Gothic manner! I was pleased to see that amongst those attending was Zagava, who recently republished the first issue of the early German fantasy mag The Orchid Garden with a translation into English by yours truly.

Above: The Orchid Garden - German/English, from Zagava press

I thoroughly enjoyed the Festival. People are sometimes sniffy about "genre" fiction so it was wonderful to be with those who really appreciate a well-written eerie tale - and who understand that a ghost story may be far deeper than a cheap thrill. It was also brilliant to exchange reading recommendations with people who are really immersed in ghostly literature - I came away with a small stack of books, including a copy of The Loney, which has queue-jumped to the head of my TBR pile. I was delighted to meet Sean Hogan, director of The Devil's Business, a film I have watched three times and thoroughly recommend. I am thrilled to say that I also met John Connolly, who was not officially at the Festival this time, but who dropped by anyway - his two Nocturnes volumes are great favourites of mine and I was finally able to shake his hand and tell him how much I loved reading both of them.

Brian J. Showers should be congratulated for organising such a successful event. On Twitter (below), he said that he had had "an incredible weekend". So did we all!

Credit: the Dublin Ghost Story Festival artwork at the top of this post is by illustrator Alisdair Wood.


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